Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Understanding more about lyssaviruses – viruses that cross species from bats to other mammals

01 April 2022


The possibility of viruses spreading from bats to humans has taken on very real significance to us all in the last few years. Different species of lyssavirus, a family that includes the rabies virus, are carried by bats and there have been cases of cross-species transmission to other mammals. Researchers examined the mechanisms and transmission of 10 different lyssavirus species in mice. They developed a new pathogenicity index, ranking the viral incubation times and impact on survival. They found notable variation between species, and even found some to have higher rankings than rabies virus samples. Further investigation revealed that lyssavirus species (green in the mouse brain section pictured) are capable of infecting not only neurons (blue) but other brain cells called astrocytes (green) as well, revealing new details about how lyssaviruses affect animals, which could help equip us to handle potential virus outbreaks in the future.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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